Posts for April 6, 2012

Last Minute Easter and Passover Roundup

Passover starts tonight and this Sunday is Easter. If you're looking for a place to enjoy a boozy brunch or spectacular Seder, there's plenty of options to choose from. Perbacco's got specialty cocktails for the Jewish holiday and Bloodhound's throwing an Easter Sunday Butcherfest. Fun!

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Patty U. Sips Plum Bar’s ‘Complex Cocktails’; Miller Calls 1833 ‘Magical,’ ‘Enchanting’

This week, Patricia Unterman has a grand old time guzzling Ron Boyd's cocktails at Plum Bar in Oakland. She calls the "modern and warm" space "typical of [Daniel] Patterson" and absolutely loves the drinks that "go down like fresh lemonade on a hot day, but pack the wallop of a martini." She enjoys most of the items on the menu like the "precisely placed" charcuterie plate and the salad "that goes with everything," but was disappointed by the dry-aged burger and its overpowering cheese. [Examiner]

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Check Out Namu Gaji, Opening Wednesday

At long last, after a last-minute delay and a four-month wait since the closing of Namu, Namu Gaji is set to debut next Wednesday, April 11, at the prime corner of 18th and Dolores. The new project from brothers Dennis, Daniel, and David Lee is going to be izakaya-like in style, but with both Korean and Japanese influences, and some new menu items and less commonly seen grilled stuff, like fish bellies, fin meat, and cubed beef tongue that takes seven days to get the necessary level of crispy char.

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Your Olive Oil Was Probably Cut With Corn Oil

Sometimes when packages say "100% Pure ___" they only mean 85 percent pure, or something like that, according to a new report commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security and reported on in the April issue of the Journal of Food Science. Food fraud, or the use of adulterants to dilute and cut corners in common food products, is more widespread than most of us know, and the study lists the products that are most commonly, and illegally, adulterated without our knowledge: olive oil, orange juice, milk, honey, coffee, and saffron.

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Blackhawk Grille to Shutter for Remodel

Danville's long time establishment, the Blackhawk Grille, is closing for a remodel. The huge restaurant, which opened in 1991, has plans to reopen in June with the same name, but a new menu and look. The private dining room will become the restaurant's main bar and — in keeping with the tavern trend — the menu will feature "modern American tavern" eats all day long. [Scoop]

Waitress Gets to Keep $12,000 Tip That May or May Not Be Drug Money


Waiting tables can feel like a little like playing the lottery; one day a customer bounces on the bill, the next Jay-Z's giving you $50,000 for a tip, right before four customers stomp you for bringing them the wrong plate. So went the shifting fortunes for Minnesota waitress Stacy Knutson this week, who was left a to-go box stuffed with $12,000 in cash by a customer at Fryn' Pan, apparently as a tip. But then Knutson did a silly, if honorable thing, and reported the cash, wadded and wrapped in different denominations, to the police.

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Local Grilled Cheese Lands on National List

The Piglet

The Piglet from American Grilled Cheese Kitchen (a gooey combo of sharp cheddar, ham, rosemary butter, and apple mustard) just landed on a USA Today list of "10 great places to bite into a surprising sandwich." Besides their grilled cheeses, we'd also like to point you back to this still-relevent list we did of the 50 Best Sandwiches in San Francisco. You are most welcome. [USA Today]

Preview the Menu at Marbella, the New Rex Café Replacement

Chef Nelson German

As we reported several months back, the owners of longtime Russian Hill staple the Rex Café (2323 Polk Street) decided it was time to shutter and re-concept, and the replacement restaurant, Marbella (pronounced mar-bay-ah), is now set to open April 18. New chef Nelson German — who most recently worked at Supperclub and previously was in New York at Jerry's Café — tells Grub Street that he'll be doing what he calls "progressive Spanish cuisine," putting some modern twists on traditional recipes, with a few new techniques thrown in.

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The French Laundry Gets a New General Manager

News arrived this week that The French Laundry has promoted longtime front-of-house man Michael Minnillo to general manager. Minnillo was part of Thomas Keller's opening team at Per Se in New York and most recently served as maître d' at the French Laundry pop-up in London. He's a fourteen-year vet of the Thomas Keller group, and he replaces former GM Nicolas Fanucci, who recently relocated to Philadelphia to take over the legendary Le Bec-Fin.

Saying Goodbye to Serra Bowl and Its Dank, Well-Loved Karaoke Lounge

A typical night at Danno's 300 Club.Photo: Todd Wanerman/Bay Bridged

There were a few shouts of protest when the announcement came last month that Daly City's Serra Bowl would be closing after 51 years, but nonetheless it is happening on April 15. It seems with the economy turning around the owners of the property are looking to do something new, and the bowling alley lost its lease. This also means the end of the kitschy, badly lit, faux-brick-walled bar and lounge known as Danno's 300 Club, with its pitchers of beer and always lively karaoke stage. (As The Bay Bridged notes, the stage has also served as a music venue for local indie-rock acts, but we've only ever seen the weekend-karaoke side of things.)

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America Wins: We Now Drink More Wine Than Anyone Else

For the second straight year, the U.S. beat out Italy and France for the most wine bottles bought, a whopping, headache-inducing grand total of 4 billion bottles, or about one case per person. Now, this doesn't make us the biggest per capita winos in the world, or even the biggest per capita alcohol consumers — those titles go to Luxemburg and the Czech Republic, respectively.

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The Feeding Tube: The Anthony Bourdain Brand

Bourdain.Photo: Sean Mathis/WireImage

As No Reservations gears up to launch its eighth season this Monday, it's become clear that the show's host, Anthony Bourdain, is no longer simply a talking head. He's become as responsible as anyone for shaping the world of food in America, whether it’s ushering in the era of the pork overload or inciting legions of hipsters to wax poetic about street food. He has transcended the role of TV personality to become an opinion leader: He has his own book imprint with Ecco and he writes Treme episodes with David Simon. He's the human Approval Matrix of the food world, a high-low cultural arbiter with a persona that's designed — some would say consciously — to stir the pot.

"I don’t think about the audience." »

Lucky Rice Festival Founder Danielle Chang Mixes Gin and Penicillin, Is ‘Addicted’ to Sichuan Peppercorns

Chang at one of her Soho lunch haunts, Giorgione.Photo: Melissa Hom

This is a busy month for Lucky Rice founder Danielle Chang. The Asian food festival, now in its third year, runs May 1 through 6, with events like a Chiang Mai dinner with Pok Pok's Andy Ricker and the Grand Feast tasting at the Mandarin Oriental. The past week found her running around — to L.A. and Vegas to talk festival expansion — and to walk-throughs and photo shoots here in New York. Yet the mom to two daughters ages 6 and 8 still found time for meals with her family. And though she tells us, "I usually save Sundays for my kids," the day's routine was sidetracked by an epic Chinese feast. Chang was recovering from strep throat, and she informed us that it's okay to mix cocktails and penicillin. "I think it’s a myth that you can’t drink on antibiotics. I got the kind of off-the-record story from my doctor." Good to know! Read about the rest of her drinking and eating in this week's New York Diet.

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Recent reader reviews on MenuPages

  • Lucca Food Store See the menu

    “Billy's Philly”

    Billy is only there after 5 pm but if you are around go there and ask for his billy philly, the best philly you'll find this side of the Mississippi.

  • Le P'tit Laurent See the menu

    “Elegant Sauces & Fabulous Bread”

    It is the place me and my love go for every intimate moment.

  • Hidive See the menu

    “Are you kidding?”

    You have to be totally drunk to think that this is even acceptable as a public watering hole.


Jay Barmann
NY Mag